It’s a night like any other and a young man is wandering through the streets of St Petersburg. His only problem is that he’s a dreamer: that’s why the discrepancy between expectations and reality always ends up with the undeserved advantage of the former. In his fantasies he’s a pleasure-seeker, but not much good at socialising in real life. On night, however, he meets a girl who has a story to tell: she is basically the prisoner of her blind grandmother who keeps her under close surveillance (and, paradoxically, won’t let the girl out of her sight), and she’s awaiting the return of her yearned-for love. The girl tells her story so vividly that the narrator (who remains nameless for the entire novella), recognises her as the counterpart of his wishy-washy attitude to life.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “White Nights” (1848) recounts the conversations between these two characters during four typical summer nights in St Petersburg which are shrouded in twilight. In order to remind the nameless young man of the Russian proverb, full of realism, that “it’s bread that keeps one warm, not fur”, we’ve decided to equip him with a freshly-baked trapper hat. This one, however, is also suitable for those never-ending St Petersburg summer days.